Tell Me a Story – Family Literacy (Switzerland)

“Tell Me a Story” or, to use the German title, “Schenk mir eine Geschichte” is a family literacy program initiated in 2006 by the Swiss Institute for Children’s and Youth Media SIKJM. The program consists of free storytelling sessions for families with migrant backgrounds with children between two and five years. The sessions promote language and literacy development the families’ first language.

This project is based on the fact that early literacy experiences are key to learning how to read and write and to a successful school career. And since parents are often the most important persons to encourage their child’s early literacy and language development, “Tell Me a Story” focuses on them. This project aims to raise their awareness of the importance of telling stories, singing, playing with words and rhymes. It encourages bilingual parents to use the language they speak best in order to give their children a good language foundation at an early age.

Together with their children parents attend story sessions regularly where they all together enjoy stories in their first language. This sessions take place in libraries, community centers and schools and are moderated by a language facilitator, trained by the SIKJM. The facilitator invites all participants to play, sing, look at picture books and explore the world of print and signs and he or she shows parents how they can boost their children’s literacy skills in everyday activities.

These facilitators play also a vital role in the promotion of the project. They invite families actively to the story sessions and inform them about “Tell me a Story”. In addition, they act as mediators between cultures and help families to overcome cultural challenges. For example, they counsel parents in other educational issues or let them know about other resources in their community, such as libraries or language classes for adults, students and pre-school children.

“Tell me a Story” was awarded with the Orange Award 2010 by Unicef Switzerland and Orange Switzerland and was added to the Effective Literacy and Numeracy Practices Database – LitBase of UNESCO: